The twentieth stage of the Giro, on Saturday, was also the last one in the mountains. To “celebrate” it, roommates Arnaud Démare and Simon Guglielmi decided to join the breakaway together. Although they eventually got caught by the favourites, who offered a great fight in the triple ascent of Sestriere, they still were able to enjoy a beautiful day before the end of the Giro, Sunday, with a time trial in Milan.

“They had fun”, Sébastien Joly

A final ride in the mountains. That was the menu on the Giro today, after the now famous reduced stage 19. The Col d’Agnel and Col de l’Izoard were no longer on the course due to health restrictions today, but the stage was still 190-kilometers long with a triple ascent to Sestriere. The riders were asked to go deep one last time. However, the Groupama-FDJ team approached this stage in a very good mood, from the day before already. “Yesterday evening with Arnaud, before falling asleep, we said: the Giro is already a success, the jersey is almost secured, we have won four stages, but we can still do a little something: be together in the breakaway, ”said Simon Guglielmi. “After having done a great work throughout the Giro, Simon did indeed have his opportunity today,” confirmed Sébastien Joly. “Moreover, his family and supporters were there. Due to the course profile, there was no need to have everyone around Arnaud today anyway. On top of that, Arnaud also wanted to have fun and join the breakaway. There was only the time trial after that stage, so it was possible to go full today and that’s what they did.”

Shortly after the start, Simon Guglielmi joined a group of attackers. “I looked back and saw Arnaud coming out of the pack,” he said. “We ended up being two in front, that was great.” In a breakaway of around 20 riders, the two Frenchmen benefited from a seven-minute lead over the peloton. “Arnaud and Simon have been roommates for a while, so it was nice to see them both at the front,” added Sébastien Joly. “They had fun and it was also fun to watch. Besides, it was a beautiful day, with much better weather than yesterday”. At the front of the race, the two riders of Groupama-FDJ did not just show the jersey, as Arnaud Démare made a point of winning the intermediate sprint. “Mathematically, it was not officially done,” said Sébastien Joly. “He symbolically completed this Giro by taking the twelve points. It was also a good sprint with Ballerini and Vendrame, some real competitors. And at the same time it shows that we were there to race today”. “It’s a great way to end this Giro,” said the French champion at the finish, “and it shows once again that I am there”.

“A wonderful experience”, Simon Guglielmi

Later, the two teammates started to climb towards Sestriere. Arnaud Démare logically got dropped on the first ascent while Simon Guglielmi had to let the leaders go in the following one. “There was all my family, my friends, my girlfriend, on the side of the road today,” said the 23-year-old rider. “I had a lot of fun. It was great. This Giro has been magical overall. It was my first Grand Tour and we’ve been through so much. The victories, the extremely hard stages in the gruppetto, the breakaways, the echelons… It was a wonderful experience”. A few minutes behind, Arnaud Démare took it easy. So easy that he even faked a victory celebration as he crossed the line for the penultimate time. “It was for fun, and it will make a nice photo of me winning at Sestriere,” he joked. “Actually, I slowed down a lot in the finale to wait for Jacopo and the others. I really took it easy in the last lap, which allowed me to recover a bit and to enjoy. I got again a lot of encouragement and it’s really nice”. A four-time stage winner on the race this year, Démare is now certain to finish the Giro with the cyclamen jersey of point classification. He will get the opportunity to savour the Italian crowd’s final cheering tomorrow during the time trial in Milan, which will be an exceptionally decisive one: the top two in the general standings, Tao Geoghegan Hart, today’s winner, and Jai Hindley, the new pink jersey, have the exact same time on Saturday evening. As for Groupama-FDJ, “Miles is expected to do a good time trial,” Sébastien Joly concluded, “but Arnaud also wants to do well “.

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